At home at Round Top Farm
It’s hard to put into words just how excited we are to report that on April 22, we relocated our headquarters to Round Top Farm in Damariscotta.
Thanks to the generosity of donors to the Campaign for the Damariscotta Capital Campaign, the 1888 Rafter (later Denny) family farmhouse has been lovingly restored, while creating a center for community education, increasing energy efficiency, and making the public spaces fully accessible.
The attached ell, the old “Oats Barn,” was unfortunately too structurally compromised to be restored, so a new wing with a smaller footprint was built in its place. This wing includes the David Moses Bridges Education Hall, named in honor of the birchbark artist who shared his craft with people of all ages at Coastal Rivers for many years.
The relocation and renovation were the focus of a front page story by Evan Houk in The Lincoln County News on May 9, excerpted here.
Coastal Rivers Conservation Trust Moves into 1888 Farmhouse at Round Top
Coastal Rivers Conservation Trust moved into its new headquarters in a restored 131-year-old farmhouse at Round Top Farm on April 22.
Coastal Rivers Conservation Trust is the new organization formed by the unification of the Damariscotta River Association and the Pemaquid Watershed Association in February.
The DRA took over Round Top Farm from the Round Top Center for the Arts in 2008, according to Steven Hufnagel, executive director of the DRA and now Coastal Rivers Conservation Trust.
The DRA inherited Round Top Farm when the Round Top Center for the Arts ceased to exist, a stipulation mandated by Nancy Freeman.
Nancy Freeman inherited the property from relatives Edward W. and Dorothy Perkins Freeman, and she spearheaded the establishment of the arts center in 1997.
The property and its buildings brought millions of dollars in deferred maintenance.
“It was a big ask. We could have said no, but the community really asked that we say yes, because it is such a landmark,” he said.
The DRA felt it wise to hold off on the renovations until it knew exactly what was needed and had a plan for the future.
“We didn’t want to lead with the space. We wanted to have a program, have a trajectory for the program for the space. Not build a program to fit the space, but build a space to fit the program,” he said.
DRA began a campaign to raise money for improvements to the farm in 2016. The campaign raised over $3 million in 18 months from 240-250 donors, according to Hufnagel. By December 2017, the DRA was able to start work.
The first priority was to purchase land on either side of Round Top Farm, 5 acres to the north and 10 acres to the south, effectively doubling the area of the farm. The acquisitions were intended to preserve the land close to the Damariscotta River for future public and student enjoyment.
The acquisitions also allowed the DRA to build a handicapped-accessible trail to the nearby Whaleback Shell Midden State Historic Site. It then funded a crosswalk, complete with flashing lights, that allows students to cross over from Great Salt Bay Community School.